By Nancy Adelia Jacks Dement “Nannie” (written about 1968)
I suppose , comparatively, my life was no more eventful than any other person living in my time , except to my own children who shared my ups and downs in at least half of it and want me to write about that.
I was born September 4, 1882, on Cyprus Creek near Wimberley, Texas, the post office of my parents, Edward Harvey Dement and Mary English Dement.
My father was born in Washington County, the part of that County which was later cut off and called Austin County. Mother was born in Lee County, as were the first six of their ten children: Lemuel, Sarah Matilda, William Harvey, Charles Gilbert, Mary Jeanette, Synie Louisa, Nancy Adelia (me), Rachel Elizabeth, John Lafayette and Samuel Alexander. Three children died in infancy: Lemuel, Charles and Synie Louisa. All of the others lived to be grown and married:
Sarah Matilda married George Thomas Dickens
William Harvey married Mineola George
Mary Jeanette married Charles Suche
Nancy Adelia married David Crockett Jacks
Rachel Elizabeth married Alfred Adolph Elsner
John Lafayette married Lanier Davis
Samuel Alexander married Fay Cavett Hall.
My earliest remembrance is of a snow storm, which my family doubted my seeing as I was a little over two years of age, but I can see it in my mind yet. It seemed that the snow must have been two or three feet deep which was possible as it was on the north side of the house and had drifted. We had moved from Wimberley there on the Blanco River and my younger sister, Rachel was born there.
We later moved to Fischer Store, where my brothers John and Alex were born. John was born in a cottage that stood in the yard of Otto Fischer. His house is still standing and in good condition and occupied by his youngest son, Rudolph, who is about John’s age.
We lived in two other places in this village, the last one we owned, and my father ran a blacksmith shop across the public road from it. I entered school at Fischer Store in 1889. My class mates were; Olga Weschmann, Newton Smith, Laura Beverly, Erie Peal and Otto Fischer. Otto Fischer died the following year, I think it was. This was my first sorrow. I remember it as if it were yesterday. The following years were uneventful or would seem so to put on paper. To us children some big events took place: Such as a ten-mile week-end trip in a wagon to Grandma English’s, especially at peach time, which seems now was almost all of the time, taht and Christmas time, another important event when all of the cousins hung their stockings for Santa to find and fill. We all slept on pallets at these times and liked it, before a fireplace filled with logs.
My mother was kind and gentle, the type the neighbors called on in a pinch. My dad was a good-hearted man that went overboard for anyone in need and expected the same from them. He had a quick temper and a sharp tongue and used it freely when in a rage, but could forgive a fellow afterwards and seemed to forget until the person did something else to provoke him, then everything he ever heard about him seemed to come right out again. He was generous in civic affairs and lax in business, consequently he and his family had little luxuries, though he worked harder and longer hours than most men in his day. Looking back, I have no regrets except the lack of educational advantages. I’m not sorry that I knew something about every kind of labor in my day. I have hoed cotton, picked cotton, gathered corn, washed clothes, done housework and nursed all for pay, and I’m glad I had the experience. If for no other reason, it helps me to understand the problems of others who have to do these things for a living. I know how their backs ache. At the same time, I feel that I have missed a lot by not being able to get a formal education and have aimed at those things for my children so that they might have a useful, though it may be no happier a life, than the fellow who does manual labor.
My first experience in working out was in San Marcos, in the early 1900’s. I came to see a friend who was a sister-in-law of my sister, Rachel, and she helped me find work in the home of William Johnson, whose mother was living with him, and his family of girls, (his wife had died quite a few years before). His girls were in school which made it necessary for a younger person to help[. I loved Grandma Johnson and she treated me as her equal, but that was the lonesomest place I ever lived in, especially on Sunday. When they had company or the family was all at home, I kept to my room. Not that they wouldn’t have been willing for me to join them, but I wasn’t happy there and strangely enough I might have been had I tried harder, but I retreated to my room and stayed lonesome. Oh!, how I longed for home and family. To this day when I see someone home-sick, my heart goes out to them in sympathy. A few years later I went to Austin to work in a Sanitarium. I had some close girl friends, one from my home town that made stating away bearable, though I still longed for home. Then a vacancy occurred in the post office and my mother asked me if I would accept it if I had a chance? I jumped at the chance and was appointed Postmistress of Driftwood, Texas, in July, 1906. I served as Nannie Dement until 1912 when I married David C. Jacks and was reappointed under the name of Nannie Dement Jacks until 1926 when I resigned to enter the race for the office of County Clerk. I was elected by a nice majority and with my family of seven, (my mother-in-law, Abigail McGonigal Jacks, my husband, and five children), moved to San Marcos, Texas.
Events leading up to my election came about through my husband having had an accident that left him blind: In early manhood he was injured in the left eye by a baseball, and sixteen years later a stick of wood hit him in the right eye, leaving him totally blind. Through a joke in front of the tax assessor’s, (a good friend), he said he was running for that office. That gave my brother, Alex, the idea and he came and asked me why I didn’t run for County Clerk. It seemed like a big undertaking for a “sure-enough country-gal”, that didn’t go to town on the average of once a year, to undertake. But he, Alex, mentioned it to others, among them Earl Martin, County Commissioner form Precinct 4 (Driftwood), who then started the ball to rolling. I had so much encouragement I couldn’t afford to do anything else but try. I remember my first efforts in San Marcos. I came down on Commissioner’s Court Day, prepared to stay a few days. Mr. Earl Martin brought me down. Standing in awe in the Court House that I don’t think I was ever in before, I decided I would go up and see Miss Wilma Allen, County Superintendent, who was the only person in San Marcos that I had more than a speaking acquaintance with. Her office was closed with a notice that she was on vacation. I went to the stairs, stood there lonely for my far away family, thinking “shall I go home to them or take a chance?” I decided, “This may be my chance and there is too much depending on me”. I made my decision then and never wavered again. I don’t mean that all was easy going from there on, for there were times when I was, what you would say, snubbed; though very few times. People generally were very courteous. Even Mr. Lee Donalson (my opponent), himself, was kind, especially after the election, and would jokingly refer to me as “the woman who became ambitious and got my job”. We became good friends and he was later appointed to the office of District Clerk, a good position that he held until his death. I was glad of his appointment. I held the office of County Clerk until defeated by Mr. Norman Hopkins in 1936. At first it was a blow to me and my family, but it was something that I knew would happen sometime, unless I knew when to quit, which very few do. There seemed to be a quiet satisfaction in the thought, “It has happened, I no longer have the dread”. The following thought then came: “Where do we go from here?” Erwin, the oldest, was the only member of the family who earned a salary. He was teaching school for the big amount of $125.00 per month, nine months a year. In October after the July primary our house burned, but fortunately we had a duplex rent-house that we could live in. This house was next to Monroe Higgs, who had just resigned as manager of the A&P Tea Company, and was searching his mind for some means of livelihood. Something, (let’s say destiny) told me that with my savings and his experience, we might be able to start something. No sooner had I conceived of the idea, than I strolled down, planning to mention it to him if I had the opportunity. He wasn’t home but his wife mentioned that they were looking for someone to start a business with, for she had little cash on hand. (Who shall say, again, that it was not destiny?) I asked her, “I wonder how he would like both of us for partners?” She replied, “Ask Him, He’s coming in.” I did so and from there we made plans. I retired from the Clerk’s Office the 1st of January, 1937. We went into Higgs & Jacks Cash Grocery, March 8, 1937.
We didn’t make a lot of money, but I made a living and was able to keep four children in school, three finished SWTSC. Exactly one year from the opening date of the grocery store, David passed away after being sick for a year or more – though seriously ill for only three months. Then the war came, World War II.
Terry enlisted, and Erwin was working in a chemical plant doing his part so they told him. I wonder if they ever convinced him. He would always say to himself, “Stay where you are, you are doing your part here.” He always seemed to be brooding and I think this was the beginning of his nervous upheaval. But he seemed to have a complex that had gone on and on. I asked myself, “Is this destiny?” If so, for what purpose? Is it to keep me humble? If so make me humble in some other manner. “Spare my son, oh God.” There were times when it seemed more than I could bear, but faith in God carried me on.
The first of the children to marry was June, who married J. E. Younger, whom she had dated and played with all through High School. They were married by Dean Speck in the church that was generally known as “Dean Speck’s Church” as he was pastor there for so many years, and was loved by all. It was in reality the Guadalupe St. Church of Christ. Corene and A. E. (Lefty) Miller were married in Reno, Nevada, during his service in the Marines. She and his mother went out to see him and she stayed on and they were married the day his mother left. Then came the marriage of Davey Fay and James Robert Richardson at the First Presbyterian Church on Hutchison Street where the present Presbyterian Church now stands. All of the girls married during World War II, therefore it was as they desired, no weddings. The boys were in the service and no one had any desire foe fan-fare. Terry and Elnora (Coovert) Langley were married at the Methodist Church by Troy Hickman, the minister. Only members of the Family were present in each instance. Elnora, a widow, had one son named Larry.
J. E. and June had three sons; Jey Emerson, born in Port Arthur, November 13, 1941; Dana Jacks, born in San Antonio, September 25, 1944, died June 29, 1945; and Jon Paul, born in San Marcos, July 1, 1947.
Corene and Lefty had three children; a boy, Brett Duane, born in San Antonio, August 24, 1944; a girl, Terry, born in Houston, January 1, 1947; and another boy, Gregg Jacks, born in San Marcos, September 22, 1950.
Davey and Jim had three sons; James Robert, born July 19, 1945, in San Marcos; Kenneth Roy, born October 11, 1948, in Houston; and Paul Edward, born July 12, 1954, in Houston.
Erwin and Evelyn Braden McPhail were married November, 10, 1962. Evelyn, a widow, had two children, David and Debbie. Debbie has two boys and one girl, and David has two girls.
Jimmy Richardson married Nancy Jean Rowland September 17, 1965.
Jey Younger married Vicki Gualtierre February 5, 1966, and had a son, Dana Michael Younger, in 1969.
Brett Miller married Cindy Drennon May 27, 1967.